by Paolo Petroni 
President of Italian Academy of Cuisine

Delivery of the 102,000 Euros gathered by Academicians and of the Orio Vergani Prize for 2016

When fundraising for the quake-stricken regions ended, the amount gathered had reached the highly encouraging sum of 102,000 Euros, far exceeding our most optimistic expectations. Thanks to the efforts of so many Delegates and Academicians, we amassed a sizeable sum which allowed us to contribute substantially, not just symbolically, to several businesses, facilitating their continued activities in the restaurant sector and the production of cheeses and charcuterie. The breakdown of sums gathered in Italy and abroad is as follows:

Number of Delegations  Contributing Delegations Euro donated
Italy 218 174 (79,8%) 61,000
Abroad 66 39 (59%) 41,000
Total 284 213 (75%) 102,000

Thanks to the painstaking local research undertaken by our three Delegates in the area, Francesco Palomba (Rieti), Vittorio Ricci (Ascoli Piceno) and Ugo Bellesi (Macerata), masterfully assisted by the Vice-Delegate for Ascoli Piceno, Alessandro Caponi, who sadly lost his home in Arquata (the Mayor, Aleandro Petrucci, was present), we were able to identify men and women truly deserving of our support. 
The funds were not equally distributed among the twenty recipients, but in proportion to their most urgent needs, with particular attention to breeders and producers who suffered livestock losses in the thousands due to snow and the shortage of stables (promised but, shamefully, never delivered). 
It was decided to gather all the beneficiaries in the symbolic city of Amatrice, hosting them in the S. Agostino Community Hall, made available by the parson, Don Savino, whom the Academy thanked with a donation. 
The ceremony was also attended by representatives of the local tourism associations of Amatrice, Arquata and Accumoli: for Amatrice, President Adriana Franconi and Vice-President Carmine Monteforte; for Arquata, Lina Giorgi, a member of the Board of Directors; and for Accumoli, Vice-President Rita Marocchi. President Marocchi’s presence was particularly appreciated, since it demonstrated the generous solidarity of the Accumoli Tourism Association even though no business in Accumoli received any funds. 
Also participating in the event were Roberto Ariani, Secretary-General and Treasurer; Mimmo D’Alessio, Adviser and Coordinator for the Abruzzo region; Mauro Magagnini, Coordinator for the Marche region; and Piergiorgio Angelini, Study Centre Director for the Marche region. 
Each representative of the selected businesses (who had no idea of the sums to be awarded) received a cheque, a medal, a friendship banner and a certificate from the Academy acknowledging their services to the food industry and the region. They all accepted their gifts with gratitude and often palpable emotion; indeed some faces registered clear disbelief upon reading the amount written on their cheques, which they had imagined would be far inferior or merely symbolic. This was the first time that they encountered real money rather than the usual empty promises, parading politicians and radio or television interviews. One’s impression upon visiting the area was of total immobility: not a single worker on the job; complete inertia. 
A bus was provided to convey 18 students of the Amatrice Hotel Institute from Rieti, its new location pro tempore. They prepared a frugal buffet appropriately including amatriciana, Amatrice’s iconic pasta dish. In Rieti on the previous day, the Delegate Palomba had conferred the Orio Vergani prize, fixed at 10,000 Euros by the President’s Council, upon the Institute: following its directors’ request, the award was delivered in the form of a machine of equivalent value for producing ice creams and sorbets. In Amatrice, the Institute’s Educational Director Fabio D’Angelo was clearly touched and overjoyed upon receiving the award certificate on the school’s behalf. 
Dearest Academicians: if ever you should visit Amatrice hoping for signs of its revival, go to the restaurants that you’ve helped back on to their feet. In any case, be proud of having contributed to alleviating the suffering of twenty families in whose hearts the Academy will always retain a special place.